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Covering Kids and Families: Back-to-School Campaign and New Grants Program Will Increase Health Insurance and Access to Health Care

9/7/2001:   The Back-to-School 2001 Campaign is a nationally coordinated communications outreach campaign by and for the 4,000 grantees of the Covering Kids program supported by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Covering Kids programs have been established in every state and the District of Columbia, as well as through 170 local coalitions. The programs (1) design and conduct outreach programs to identify and enroll eligible children into Medicaid and other health coverage programs; (2) simplify enrollment processes; and (3) coordinate existing coverage programs for low-income children. The Child Welfare League of America is among the organizations supporting the Back-to-School 2001 campaign, which is designed to increase the numbers of children in low- and moderate-income families who are connected to affordable health care coverage programs. To receive information on the campaign through a listserve, e-mail coveringkids@gmmb.com.

In 2000, a survey by Covering Kids found that 60% of the parents who qualify did not believe the free or low-cost programs applied to them, even though many families are eligible for Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and other public and private sector health insurance programs for children in working families. Other reasons for underenrollment include the complex application process, perceived stigma attached to public coverage, disruption of continuous coverage because of changes in eligibility, and lack of coordination across public and private programs.

Lack of health insurance coverage is both widespread and a serious problem:
  • Only 69% of all children in the United States are covered by private health insurance.
  • A majority of the estimated 10 million uninsured children in the United States are eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP, but they are not enrolled.
  • About 65% of uninsured children have at least one parent who works full time.
  • Compared with insured children, uninsured children are more likely to delay needed care, to have untreated vision problems, and to miss school; they are less likely, however, to receive care for childhood illnesses or asthma or to see a physician for regular visits.

In addition, a new, four-year, $55 million national health access initiative called Covering Kids and Families (CKF), builds on the original Covering Kids program which concludes in 2002. CKF is also supported by RWJF and is directed by the Southern Institute on Children and Families. Both programs reflect the commitment of RWJF and supporting organizations to assuring that all Americans have access to basic health care. The new grants support state and local coalitions to (1) find, enroll, and retain eligible children; (2) to find, enroll, and retain eligible adults in states that have expanded coverage at or above 100% of the federal poverty level; and (3) to improve access to health care services once family members are enrolled in health coverage programs.

For information on both programs, including the CFK grants (awarded in three cycles through February 2002), go to http://www.coveringkids.org.

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